The Tide turns in the mailbag

I don't know about you, but this is my favorite time of the year that doesn't involve being in a stadium on a Saturday. The Final Four, the Masters, Opening Day, and we haven't even gotten to the end of the week.

In other words, college football is going to have a hard time making news this week. Colorado wide receiver and Olympic skier Jeremy Bloom is in a courtroom, about to say goodbye to his college football career. The NCAA is a two-touchdown favorite in this court case, which speaks more to the law in regard to private organizations than it does the merits of the NCAA's stand. NCAA President Myles Brand has made consideration of the student-athlete a theme of his tenure, and the rules have had some common sense applied to them. But along comes a high-profile case, and the NCAA looks as stiff and out of touch as it ever has.

The NCAA is going to run Bloom out of the sport, and I've yet to figure out how that contributes to the benefit of college football.

I have been a fan of yours for quite sometime, and I bleed crimson and white but
I totally disagree with your column of "Another Bonehead Move in Alabama."
What is the big deal if Mike Shula changed the name of an award named for someone who happens to be a former All-American, black head football coach at a rival school.

If he changed the award from Joe Namath to Bart Starr Commitment to
Excellence Award, you wouldn't have said one word about it and neither would
have several other media outlets. You want to jump on this because you
perceive it as a black/white issue, which it is not. Maybe it is April and
you just need something to write about.

Doug Walker

Many Tide fans who wrote to me agree with you, Doug. So I called up last week's mailbag, clicked on search and typed in "African-American."

Found nothing.

Typed in "black."


"People Who Paul Hornung Thinks Could Get Into Notre Dame If It Would Lower Its Admission Standards."

That wasn't in the mailbag, either.

Doug, one of us brought up the black-white issue, and it wasn't me. Another reader wrote in and, beating the same dead horse, suggested that if it had been the Phil Fulmer Award, or the Nick Saban Award, no one would have complained.

(Note to color-blind readers: Fulmer and Saban are white).

If Fulmer or Saban had been an All-American at Alabama, and coached for Bear Bryant at Alabama, and been the runner-up for the Alabama job a year earlier, it absolutely would have been a story.

Tide coach Mike Shula, in a classy move, reversed the decision this week and restored Croom's name to the award. And so we move on.

I couldn't disagree more strongly with Rick Simon's assessment of Michigan's offense. To believe that predictability is inherently a liability flies in the face of some of the best offenses in sports history. Tell the Packers of old that they were too predictable. Tell the Utah Jazz and coach Jerry Sloan -- the very reason they've defied everyone's estimation of them this season has to do in large part with predictability. There's great value in doing one thing and doing it extremely well.
I'm not saying that Carr and crew are without error. Most all of us blame the coaching staff for single-handedly costing at least one loss last year (can anybody explain that horrendous punt formation that we kept using against Iowa?!). I for one would love to see Michigan a bit more aggressive on offense sometimes, but that's not that same thing as suggesting Carr add more complexity. As for the loss to USC ... I'm sorry guys, but we lost to the better team (and national champs).

Nathan Hyde
Churubusco, IN
The University of Michigan, Class of 1995

The e-mail ran slightly more than two to one in defense of Carr, although most of those who defended him on this issue couldn't resist the opportunity to tweak him about special teams, or the defense, or some other issue, as you did. This proves once again that college football fans may love their team win or lose, but they love their coach win or tie, and no one gets to tie anymore.

I have a quick and simple question. In responding to the letter by Nebraska
fan David Johnson, you gave a top ten list based solely on "history." As I
understand it, this was supposed to be a humorous, sarcastic retort, and is not
what a top ten list based on history would actually look like. Now I will admit
I know very little about the football history of the Ivy league schools;
however, I do know that Michigan is No. 1 all time in number of wins and winning
percentage, and has 11 national championships, and yet was not on your list.
Could you straighten this out: what would an official top ten list based on
history look like, if the one previously listed is in fact not it?

Brad Reames
Class of 2005
Ann Arbor, Mich.

This is my seat-of-the-pants ranking, based on dominance in general and national championships in particular, and how they were spread over the greatest number of years.

1. Notre Dame
2. Oklahoma
3. Alabama
4. USC
5. Michigan
6. Army
7. Ohio State

8. Miami
9. Nebraska
10. Tennessee

I thought your response to the young Husker fan who believed Nebraska
should be ranked in the Top 25 purely on history was brilliant. As a
student at Harvard, I didn't get to see a great deal of spectacular play on
the football field, but it was neat to at least be able to look back and
say my school made a huge impact in the game's early days. Now, I'm at
Michigan and no one here seems to appreciate that at all. Unfortunately,
your revised top 10 was also sort of backhanded in that it highlights the
great fall Ivy League football has taken in national esteem. Yet, this
fall can be blamed in large part on the Ivy League's refusal to engage in
the "big business" of college football, with all it's scandals, cheating,
and exploitation of athletes. Harvard willingly sacrifices national esteem for self-respect.

This is the contribution the Ivy League and Ivy football have made to the
sporting community in the past 50 years. Will the sports world ever
recognize this?


Mike Groves, '01
Ann Arbor, MI

Mo one recognizes sacrifice anymore. You can't even find a major leaguer who knows how to sacrifice a runner. Take a look at the attendance figures for the Ivy League. Even the fans up there don't pay as much attention as they used to. It's a sign of the times and a sign of society. The philosophy of athletics mirrors the philosophy of this column. It is, after all, all about me.

Ivan Maisel is a senior writer for ESPN.com. Send your question/comments to Ivan at ivan.maisel@espn3.com. Your e-mail could be answered in a future Maisel's Mailbag.